The Diplôme d'Ingénieur is an advanced academic degree of higher education (see Engineer's Degrees in Europe) awarded by the French Grandes Écoles of engineering. It is generally obtained after five to seven years of studies after the French Baccalauréat (equivalent of the high school diploma or A-level for entrance to universities). The diploma holder is also conferred the academic title of Ingénieur Diplômé de [name of the awarding institution].
Since the signing of the Bologna Process in 1999, the European Master's Degree is also conferred by the state to the holder of a Diplôme d'Ingénieur, but the inverse is not true. All titles of Ingénieur Diplômé (Graduate Engineer) are protected by the state and the institutions must be accredited by the Minister of Higher Education to award a Diplôme d'Ingénieur. Anyone found misusing the title of Ingénieur Diplômé is liable for a €15,000 fine and one year in prison.
The French engineer training is usually considered to be harder and finer than that of traditional master's degrees of the same domain. However, the more selective careers may require a specific Master on top of the diplôme d'ingénieur.
Grandes écoles and Universities
France is particular in that, only Grandes écoles are certified to offer the diplôme d'ingénieur, which are differentiated from universities (universités).
Universities are comprehensive educational institutions composed of several faculties covering various fields (natural sciences, engineering, law, economics, medicine, humanities, etc) with a large student body. By law, admission to a French university is non-competitive and open to anyone with a high school diploma. On the other hand, "Grandes écoles" (university polytechnic schools or university external engineering schools) are much smaller in size and recruit their students with very selective processes. Moreover, the Commission des Titres d'Ingénieur is the unique body empowered to issue the engineering degree and to protect the title of ingénieur diplômé.
But despite the existence of the engineer title being officially defined nationwide, the curriculum (and the selectivity) varies very widely from one Grande école to another. In general, the most prestigious and selective schools offer a generalist curriculum, while less selective schools usually focus on a very narrow specialization. But this is not an absolute rule, and exceptions are easy to find.
French engineers are educated in close cooperation with industries. These academic-industry partnerships introduce graduates to professional life while giving them a solid grounding in their discipline. As graduates will in most cases be in management positions in projects or teams, management courses are also part of the education.
In addition to courses in theory and practice in their chosen discipline, the engineer training often includes:
- courses in human and social sciences, including management courses,
- courses in labor and business law,
- visits to production sites,
- conferences by professionals,
- internships and research projects carried out in corporate facilities.
More than 90 percent of the engineering programs require at least one internship (typically in a business setting) at some point in the curriculum.
Most schools arrange three types of internships that train the students with progressive responsibilities, initially as observers and increasingly as actors, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding and perspective of all levels within the industry. One can distinguish “worker” (blue-collar) internships, “senior technician” internships, and “graduate” internships where the students do the same type of work they will do as graduate engineers. Internships are graded and constitute part of the academic degree requirements.
- "Article 433-17 of the French Penal Code" (in French).
- "Article L642-12 of the French Educational Code" (in French).
- Memorandum of understanding
- "Zoom sur les écoles d'ingénieurs universitaires". Onisep. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- "French "Grandes Ecoles" and the "Diplôme d'Ingénieur" | ENSTA ParisTech, Grande école d'ingénieurs généraliste". www.ensta-paristech.fr. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
- Which studies allow to become an engineer in France ? http://www.onisep.fr/Choisir-mes-etudes/Apres-le-bac/Principaux-domaines-d-etudes/Les-ecoles-d-ingenieurs/Les-voies-d-acces-en-ecole-d-ingenieurs